St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning Committee Meeting
May 8, 2002 

Members present:  Mike Williams, Todd Miller, Anne Barrier (Chairperson and Planning Board liaison), Cliff Isaac, Jeff Kerley, Mack Stafford, Ira Cline, John Robinson and John Cline.

Member absent: Larry Brittain.

Staff present: John Witherspoon, Interim Director from Benchmark Consulting, Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department, Anthony Starr and John Tippett  from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Mrs. Barrier called the meeting to order at 6:25 p.m.  The minutes from the April 10, 2002 meeting were approved as submitted.

Mr. Starr began by reviewing the plan recommendations for housing in the written plan and by showing this area on a map.  He reviewed recommendations that Mr. Brittain had suggested by letter since Mr. Brittain was unable to make the meeting.  Mr. Brittain had three additional areas that he thought should be included in the R-1 rezoning recommendations.  These included:  Shell Hollar Road from Hwy. 16 to River Bend Road; Rest Home Road from Oxford School Road to Shell Hollar Road and the west side of Rock Barn Road from St. Johnís Church Road to the main entrance of Rock Barn Development.   Mr. Kerley said that he agreed that the area near Rock Barn should be protected.  The group discussed rezoning the area near Rock Barn to R-1 and also the possibility that multi-family could be done in this area because it was included on their proposed land use map.  Mrs. George explained that R-1 does not permit multi-family use.  The group discussed the need for a residential district that allows multi-family, but does not allow manufactured homes.  They decided to recommend rezoning the area on the west side of Rock Barn Road from St. Johnís Church Road to the main entrance of Rock Barn development to R-1.  They decided that the other areas should be left as R-2, but to include in the plan the intention for the area to be used for multi-family.  

Mr. Isaac presented an area around where he lives along Oxford School Road to Toms Road to remain as R-2.  Mrs. Barrier told him that the map reflected what Mr. Isaac agreed to and Mr. Isaac said that it does, but that he has changed his mind after discussing the matter with residents of this community.  He showed the area to the group on the working copy of the proposed rezoning map.  

Mr. John Cline said that he knew of two people that had purchased manufactured homes who were now in a situation where they were stuck with substandard housing because of the way that these homes were built.  He said that he empathizes with efforts to promote affordable housing, but he does not think that manufactured housing is affordable housing.  Mr. Kerley and Mr. Williams said that they agreed with this and felt that someone could get a builder to construct a smaller house for a reasonable price.  

Mr. Ira Cline said that he thought that our society is not tough enough on the manufacturers of manufactured homes.  He said that there are ways and means available for people to get the money to build homes if they try to through governmental funding or the like.  Mr. Kerley said that his issue is that if you ride through a manufactured home subdivision that has been in place for 15 years, it looks terrible.  He said that on the other hand if you ride through a site built home subdivision that has been around for the same time period, it does not look bad.

The group decided to leave the area that Mr. Isaac had labeled on the map as R-2 zoning per his request, being one tract back from Oxford School Road.  Mr. Starr asked if there were any other changes or issues that the group had with the rezoning map related to housing and there were none.

Next, Mr. Starr reviewed the community facilities and public services for the area as recognized by the group.  Specifically, he reviewed the information about the schools and their capacities.  Mrs. Barrier asked what the Mountain View Small Area was recommending for schools.  Mrs. George said that it might be best to discuss this under the recommendations.  Mr. John Cline said that he thinks that the high schools should be kept at a smaller capacity like the other schools (elementary and middle) are kept to.  He said that this seems to work better because the schools are operated better.

Mr. Starr then reviewed parks, greenways and libraries with the group.  He explained that only one portion in the extreme northeast corner of this district is not within the six-mile service area of existing libraries and there are no plans for future libraries in Catawba County.  He continued by reviewing the water and sewer services proposed for this area.  

Mr. Stafford asked about future annexations and Mr. Starr said that to his knowledge the City of Conover had no immediate plans to involuntary annex into this area.  He explained that voluntary annexations could still occur, but involuntary annexations were less likely right now.  

Mr. Starr briefly reviewed the emergency services makeup for this area and then went over the guiding principles for this plan.  Mr. John Cline said that under schools he believes the wording should include to plan for community schools and the group agreed.  Mr. Isaac said that he would like to see the wording included in the plan recommendations to continue to pursue CDBG for water and sewer where possible.

Next, Mr. Starr moved into reviewing the plan recommendations with the group.  He asked the group what they thought about promoting the idea of using existing County buildings for community facilities.  He said one example would be to possibly convert the libraries at schools so that they could be public libraries that were open later hours.  

The group decided to include in their plan to promote more of a community usage concept of public facilities such as schools.  Mr. John Cline said that the only issue that he saw with the library conversion idea was that many folks like to use the library during the daytime and if they were at the schools, they would not be able to.  He said that he sees the potential for another high school in this area more in the northeast area near River Bend Park.  

Mrs. George told the group that they would need to keep in mind that school capacities would have to be a part of their recommendation.  She said that the group might recommend to lift the capacity requirements as applied to new subdivisions, but they would probably want to include the wording that the funding should be made available for new schools.  The group decided to include this wording in their plan like the other areas have done.  The group discussed that without releasing the school capacities guideline, this plan would be work that was done in vain.  They stated that school facility planners should use the planís recommended density for future school planning purposes.  

Mr. Kerley said that he would like to see wording in the plan requesting some type of active recreational facilities such as ball fields.  The group decided to recommend looking at a potential greenway along the Catawba River in the northeast area.  Mrs. Barrier asked about adding wording to include supporting placing an EMS station at the water tower and the group agreed.  

Mr. Starr then reviewed the plan recommendations and guiding principles for economic development, natural resources, and cultural resources.  Mrs. George said that one thing that the group could add to the watershed regulations for this area would be to include a 10/70 provision for this area, which was something that the Sherrills Ford Small Area Plan was including in their recommendation.  Mrs. Barrier suggested that design standards should be developed for public access/recreational areas along the lake to preserve trees and protect water quality.  

In discussing the cultural resources of the area, the Committee noted that there is a cemetery on River Bend Road where confederate soldiers are buried.  Also, there were several blacksmiths in the area.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. in the Conover City Hall.  The Committee will review the draft plan at its next meeting. 

Mrs. Barrier adjourned the meeting at 9:10 pm.